I’m going to be pitching in to help monitor former Hawkeyes in the NFL. I’ll list them in alphabetical order and maybe bring a couple different players to the top of the list each week once the season starts to highlight their accomplishments.
With each team having a couple of preseason games under their belt now, things are starting to shake out a little bit for some of the guys lower down the roster. The third week is traditionally the final week for those on the bubble to make their mark
Without further ado, here are your former Iowa Hawkeyes in the NFL.
QB C.J. Beathard (San Francisco 49ers): Between the 49ers and the Denver Broncos who played last night (a 24-15 San Francisco victory), there are six former Hawkeyes trying to make it on these two teams. Beathard is in a battle with Nick Mullens for the backup job to Jimmy Garoppolo. Both have played in regular season games for the oft-injured Garoppolo so the 49ers may be forced to roster three quarterbacks or at least look to trade one of the backups. Beathard went 5-11 for 81 yards in the victory.
OL Austin Blythe (Los Angeles Rams): Blythe and the Rams dropped to 0-2 on the preseason as they went to Hawaii and lost to the Dallas Cowboys 10-14. Blythe was originally drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 and was signed by the Rams after being waived by the Colts. He is expected to start for the Rams again in 2019.
OL Ike Boettger (Buffalo Bills): Boettger is on his second stint with the Buffalo Bills. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent in May of 2018, Boettger was released and then signed by the Kansas City Chiefs where he was quickly waived and reclaimed by the BiIls.
OL Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers): Bulaga is in the last year of a five year, $42 million contract. The Packers lost to Baltimore this week to drop to 1-1 on the preseason. Bulaga played sparingly against the Ravens after sitting out the first week and should make the roster if healthy.
RB James Butler (Oakland Raiders): Butler carried the ball eight times for 32 yards against the Arizona Cardinals in a 33-26 win. Butler has a tough road in trying to make the roster for the Raiders after spending last year on the practice squad.
DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta Falcons): Clayborn is back with Atlanta after a one year stint in New England that ended with a Super Bowl ring. Clayborn signed a modest one year, $2 million contract. Atlanta has already played three preseason games, losing all three, and Clayborn has seen action in the last two.
OL Cole Croston (New England Patriots): Croston was re-signed by the Patriots after being let go earlier in the summer. Croston played in the Patriots 22-17 win over the Tennessee Titans but has an uphill battle to make the roster.
DT Mike Daniels (Detroit Lions): Daniels joins the Lions after many seasons in Green Bay. He signed a one year, $8.1 million contract and is expected to help anchor the defensive line. Daniels just returned to practice yesterday after missing a majority of practice this year.
WR Nick Easley (Buffalo Bills): Buffalo defeated Carolina last week 27-14 to run their record to 2-0. Easley has not played in either preseason game this year and the undrafted free agent is not expected to make the roster.
TE Noah Fant (Denver Broncos): Fant was the Bronco’s first round pick. He will of course make the roster and should quickly become a primary target of new Bronco quarterback Joe Flacco. Fant was injured early in the game against the 49ers and didn’t return.
C James Ferentz (New England Patriots): Another Hawkeye trying to stick with the Patriots, Ferentz is on the last year of his two year, $1.4 million contract. Ferentz played two games with the Patriots last season and is going to have to fight to win a roster spot.
S Jake Gervase (Los Angeles Rams): Another member of the Rams that lost to Dallas in Hawaii, Gervase had two tackles and recovered a fumble in the loss. Gervase was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in May and is not projected to make the final 53 man roster.
TE Parker Hesse (Tennessee Titans): Hesse, the undrafted free agent, is trying the tough task of making a position change after college (from defensive end to tight end). He was targeted one time in a 17-22 loss to New England. Hesse is not expected to make the roster.
LB Anthony Hitchens (Kansas City Chiefs): Hitchens comes to Kansas City from the Dallas Cowboys after signing a five year, $45 million contract before last season. Hitchens will make the team and has been used sparingly this fall.
TE T.J. Hockenson (Detroit Lions): The number six pick in this past draft, Hockenson is currently listed as second on the depth chart at tight end but smart money says that he will have the most impact for the Lions. Hockenson had one catch for 22 yards in a 23-30 loss to the Houston Texans in week two of the preseason.
S Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills): The third Hawkeye on the Bills roster, Hyde came to Buffalo in 2017 and is currently in the third year of a five year $38 million contract. He played briefly against the Panthers and is expected to make the final roster.
CB Josh Jackson (Green Bay Packers): Trying to join Bulaga on the Packer roster is Jackson. The team’s second round pick in 2018, Jackson played in all 16 games during his rookie season, including ten starts. Jackson is expected to make the roster.
DT Jaleel Johnson (Minnesota Vikings): Johnson was the Vikings fourth round pick in 2017 and is in the third year of his rookie contract. He had just 13 tackles in 16 games last year so his roster spot could be in play. However, according to Viking beat writer Andrew Krammer, Johnson is projected as making the roster as the eighth of nine defensive linemen kept.
CB Desmond King (Los Angeles Chargers): King was named first team All-Pro last year but ironically was not invited to the Pro Bowl, go figure. Since being drafted by the Chargers in the fifth round in 2017, King has done nothing but make plays. With 138 tackles and four interceptions over the past two seasons, expect King to continue to thrive, especially with the pressure that the Chargers front four can provide.
TE George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers): Kittle is either the best or second best tight end in the game right now depending on how you feel about Travis Kelce. Kittle didn’t play against San Francisco.
LB Anthony Nelson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Nelson was the Bucs fourth round pick in the past draft. He’s been slowed with a knee injury this preseason but is expected to make the roster as an edge rusher.
LB Ben Niemann (Kansas City Chiefs): Niemann is with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He led the team in tackles with five in a 7-17 loss to Pittsburgh last week. Niemann played in 14 games with the Chiefs last year and is expected to make the roster once again this year.
OL Riley Reiff (Minnesota Vikings): Reiff is in the third year of a $59 million five year deal. The big lineman missed three games with injuries last season but is a lock to start the year on the line for the Vikings.
C Keegan Render (Philadelphia Eagles): Render was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in May. The Eagles have an experienced offensive line so the chances that Render sticks on the initial 53 man roster are slim. Veteran Stefen Wisniewski is struggling early in the preseason though so if he is cut, Render may become an option.
OL Brandon Scherff (Washington Redskins): Scherff has started in all 54 games of his career. Last year he was limited to only eight games due to injuries but is expected to be back in the lineup this season. The Redskins picked up his fifth option year from his initial rookie contract so he will be looking for a big season and a big payday next year.
OL Marshal Yanda (Baltimore Ravens): Yanda has yet to play in the preseason. A future Hall of Famer, Yanda signed a one year, $10 million contract and as long as he is healthy, will be on the roster and anchoring the line for the Ravens.